Sutcliffe's quick recovery may win him Boston start
Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe has made so much progress since his knee operation that manager Johnny Oates will not rule out a start for him in the very near future.
"He's in better shape now than he was when he went on the disabled list," Oates said before last night's game. "Don't ever be surprised at what that man can do. Right now, I've got three left-handers in Boston and I may not want that."
The Orioles open a nine-game road trip in Boston next Monday. Sutcliffe threw on the side yesterday and will throw batting practice tomorrow, but it still seems like a stretch to imagine him returning to the rotation next week.
"Everything's going great," said Sutcliffe, 37, who did his rehabilitation at home in Kansas City, Mo., while the Orioles were on the recent AL West road swing. "That was the longest 10 days of my life, but I'm happy to be back."
Sutcliffe didn't let any grass grow under the left knee that Dr. Charles Silberstein repaired two weeks ago. He was playing catch just days after the arthroscopic procedure and returned to Baltimore several pounds lighter than he left.
He was surprised to hear that Oates was talking about a start next week, but he isn't sure about the actual timetable for his return.
"Chick [Silberstein] isn't going beyond today," he said, "but I've been throwing for a week and there's no swelling. I've even done a little running."
Sutcliffe obviously has been working hard to get back quickly, as evidenced by the 5 pounds he shed during the past two weeks, but he wasn't bragging about it.
"It's still the same old body," he said. "I'm never going to be a threat to Jim Palmer and his underwear ads." First baseman David Segui jammed his left big toe getting into the shower in the Oakland Coliseum visitor's clubhouse Sunday and was scratched from last night's lineup.
"They have this eight-inch step you have to step over when you get into the shower," Segui said. "I just hit it. It just got sorer and sorer."
It got sore enough to require precautionary X-rays last night, but they revealed no fracture. Segui claimed he would be ready to play today regardless of the outcome of the medical examination.
"I could probably hit right now," he said. "But I don't think I'd have much range out there."
In Segui's place, Mike Pagliarulo got the start at first base, which apparently touched off the shouting match between Oates and first baseman Glenn Davis before the game.
O's hit 3 million
The Orioles went over 3 million in attendance last night, reaching the plateau for the second time in club history and the second time in a row. They reached it this year two dates earlier than last season.
It was the 23rd time in major-league history that a club has reached 3 million and the fourth time this year. Colorado, Toronto and Atlanta already have reached it this season.
To celebrate the occasion, the Orioles honored Elizabeth Miller of Hughesville (selected at random) as the 3 millionth fan and awarded her a trip for two to London. The club also made a $3,000 donation to the Ripken Learning Center in her name.
Hammonds in the lineup
Jeffrey Hammonds was in the starting lineup as the designated hitter last night, though he'll probably be experiencing back and shoulder soreness for the rest of the season.
Relief pitcher Gregg Olson threw on the side yesterday and continues to progress in his comeback from a ligament tear in his elbow, but there still is no timetable for his return.
"Nothing has been decided," Oates said. "He threw Saturday and he threw today and it was a little better. He's about 75 percent."
In the meantime, Oates continues to go with a closer by committee, using any of three relievers in tough late-inning situations.
The Orioles have not recalled any pitchers from the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings roster, but there likely will be a few call-ups after the minor-league playoffs.